Easiest Tomato Sauce

Easiest Tomato Sauce
Rate it!

finished tomato sauce
It is easy, we’ll give it that.

For yesterday’s cannelloni, we needed, or at least wanted, a tomato sauce to use as a base in the pan, along with just a bit more for a sauce. Something simple. In the past, we’ve used drained and crushed tomatoes, which were quite good; however, since this was for a dinner event, we wanted to try something that might have a bit more in the way of flavor.

Looking on the Internet, we seemed to have found the perfect tomato sauce. Simple, only four ingredients, and almost no work. Basically, combine the ingredients, let them simmer, then add a bit of salt. And everyone who tried it raved about how good it is, using superlatives as if they were on a half-price sale. Well, we had to try it, as it sounded perfect; we could let it simmer while we did other things, and it (according to some) makes the best tomato sauce on the planet.

Sounds like a perfect job for the Scratchin’ It Test Kitchen!

Makes about 3 cups.

Easiest Tomato Sauce

Easiest Tomato Sauce


  • 1 can (28 ounces) San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion
  • 5 Tbs unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt to taste

Abbreviated Instructions

In a medium saucepan, combine tomatoes, onion, and butter. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up tomatoes.

Remove and discard onion and taste sauce, adding salt as needed.


Ingredient discussion:

mise en place
This is supposed to be all you need to make a fantastic sauce; well, this and a bit of salt.

Yeah, we know what you’re thinking, “No basil? No oregano? No garlic?” No. No. And no. We knew from experience that, for this to work, we needed high-quality tomatoes, so we tried to use the best. In fact, we had just bought some Mutti brand Italian tomatoes that we had never tried before (we usually use Cento brand), so we thought we’d do a taste comparison between the two brands to see which we liked better. Oh, and we used unsalted butter, of course.

Procedure in detail:

making suace
Yep, just toss in the butter and half an onion, almost no reason to use a knife!

Make sauce. Place the tomatoes, butter, and onion in a medium saucepan. No need to chop the onion as we’ll remove it later; just put in the onion half. Place the pan over medium heat until the sauce comes to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally to help break up the tomatoes as they cook.

Remove onion and season. Use a fork to stab the onion pieces and remove them from the sauce. They’ve given their all, so into the trash they go (or better yet, put them in a compost bin). Taste the sauce and add kosher salt as needed. We had to add about 1/2 to 3/4  teaspoon of salt to each batch of sauce.

finished tomato sauce
The finished sauce is pretty smooth, as the tomatoes break down into little pieces while cooking.

Serve. Your sauce is done, so you can now serve it over pasta.

Well, this is definitely an easy sauce! And, by golly, it gets the rave reviews. Why? We don’t know. Having tried it, we can, at best, say that we were whelmed. It wasn’t a bad sauce, but it wasn’t a good sauce, either. Instead, it was kind of like the sauce you might find in a 1970’s “Italian” restaurant. You know the place: the one with heavy sauce-coated dishes, red checkered tablecloths, the Chianti bottle with a candle on the table, nothing quite great to eat, but enough to be filling and an okay meal, but you wouldn’t recommend as a place to go. That’s what this sauce is like. It’s somewhat on the heavy side from the butter, the long cooking time mars some of the fresh tomato flavor, and it just doesn’t stand out. We would have been better off just draining and crushing the tomatoes. Overall, this is a three-star recipe — super easy, but lacking in deliciousness.

Oh, and in comparing the two brands of tomatoes, we found that both were very similar, but the edge definitely went to the Cento brand tomatoes. The Mutti brand, while good, had a very slight bitter aftertaste.

Worth the trouble?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *